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Alternative splicing of the Anopheles gambiae Dscam gene in diverse Plasmodium falciparum infections


Abstract Background In insects, including Anopheles mosquitoes, Dscam (Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule) appears to be involved in phagocytosis of pathogens, and shows pathogen-specific splice-form expression between divergent pathogen (or parasite) types (e.g. between bacteria and Plasmodium or between Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium falciparum). Here, data are presented from the first study of Dscam expression in response to genetic diversity within a parasite species. Methods In independent field and laboratory studies, a measure of Dscam splice-form diversity was compared between mosquitoes fed on blood that was free of P. falciparum to mosquitoes exposed to either single or mixed genotype infections of P. falciparum. Results Significant increases in Anopheles gambiae Dscam (AgDscam) receptor diversity were observed in parasite-exposed mosquitoes, but only weak evidence that AgDscam diversity rises further upon exposure to mixed genotype parasite infections was found. Finally, a cluster of AgDscam exon 4 variants that become especially common during Plasmodium invasion was identified. Conclusions While the data clearly indicate that AgDscam diversity increases with P. falciparum exposure, they do not suggest that AgDscam diversity rises further in response to increased parasite diversity.

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